Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category
This quick and easy version of Pasta Puntanesca is perfect for a weeknight meal and is sure to be a crowd pleaser!!
Yields 4-6 servings
1-28 ounce can peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup caper or sliced green olives
4 cup fresh spinach or 1 pound frozen spinach
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 pound whole wheat pasta, your favorite brand
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Bring 2 quarts water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes, drain, Do NOT rinse, and set aside.
Heat saute pan on medium heat, add oil and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minutes. Add tomatoes and crush with spoon; bring to a boil.
Add capers and spinach. bringing back up to a boil, stirring constantly.
Add cooking pasta, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese.
Serve piping hot.
Last night I had the great privilege to be one of the many talented Chefs cooking at this year’s 9th Annual Chefs of the World: A Taste of Fame charity event. Being in the company of chefs like Marvin Woods, Tony Morrow, Ave Thomas, and Jaaion Barnes always makes me step up my culinary game to a higher level, while Atlanta Technical College Chef Instructors like Ralph “B” Paige, Sara Ray and Teika Blocker reminds me of the high caliber chef it takes to motivate and educate future culinarians. This year we boasted over 15 participating Chefs, Restaurateurs, and Hotels, working together to raise scholarship money for up and coming culinary students, which is an awesome feeling!! I have to say a big Thank You to my culinary team, especially my Le Cordon Bleu-Atlanta culinary students for volunteering their time, Derrick Baily for volunteering his wine knowledge and to Chef Leslie Howard for saving the day!
Last weekend I attended my very first Georgia Organics Conference, which was held on Jekyll Island, located on the coast of south-east Georgia. There on a scholarship courtesy of Les Dames d’Escoffier International-Atlanta Chapter, I was determined to go and do my best to learn something new about organically raised food. But, I’ll be honest with you-I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would there be a bunch of tree huggers spouting the dangers of eating meat? Would farmers and legislators have a battle royal over the use of the word ‘organic’? Would I be allowed to eat white bread without getting dirty looks? I’m glad to say that it was nothing like I feared and everything I had hoped for; everyone from farmers, to chefs, to educators, to legislators who have made it their life’s mission to get naturally grown food from the farm- to the table -to us, coming together for that one common goal. As a GA Grown Executive Chef, that is something I can get behind.
So, what is Georgia Organics? It is a member supported, non-profit organization connecting organic food from Georgia farms to Georgia families. They believe that food should be community-based, not commodity-based, and I happen to agree with them. So if you want to know how your food is grown and where it comes from before you put it in you mouth-then check them out. It’s worth the effort.
Contact them at:
200-A Ottley Drive,
Atlanta, GA 30324
We are in full swing of the holiday season and I couldn’t be more excited! This is the one time of the year that I put on my baking toque, get in the kitchen, and bake cookies until my heart’s content.
This week’s Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter recipe is a new one for me-my daughters made these Hot Cocoa Cookies over the Thanksgiving break and I fell in love with their chewy chocolaty goodness. So of course I had to share it with you and embellish the recipe a bit by adding some crushed candy canes for a peppermint surprise. I hope you enjoy these Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies over your holiday break!
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Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies
This recipe tastes exactly like a cup of rich creamy hot cocoa, only better!
Yields 2-3 dozen
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
6 peppermint candy canes, crushed + 1 for garnish
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
25 large marshmallows, cut in half
Preheat oven to 325*F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with pan spray.
In a medium saucepan (or in a microwave safe bowl, using 50% power), melt the butter and chocolate, stirring frequently. Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
Beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla, in a medium bowl until well combined.
Add the cooled chocolate mixture and crushed candy cane to the egg mixture and stir until just combined.
While mixing, add the flour mixture slowly and blend until just combined.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then cover the dough and refrigerate about 1 hour. If making the dough a day ahead, let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping.
Using a tablespoon or small scoop, scoop the dough, then roll the dough in your hands to create balls. Arrange the balls about 2 inches apart on your baking sheets, then flatten slightly. Butter or oil your hands to reduce stickiness.
Bake cookies about 12 minutes.
Remove cookies from oven and press one marshmallow half into the center of each cookie and sprinkle with crushed candy cane.
Return the cookies to the oven and bake another 2-3 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow the pan of cookies to cool a few minutes, and then transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool completely.
Serve with a mug of hot cocoa or a glass of ice cold milk!
Reduce Your Holiday Stress!
WebMD Health News
By Joanne Barker
Reviewed By Hansa D. Bhargava, MD
Talk about stressful. The average American spends 42 hours a year on holiday activities. That’s one standard work week spent shopping, wrapping, and returning presents, attending holiday parties, and traveling from place to place. Often these extra activities get squeezed into already busy schedules.
Holiday stress can take many forms. In a survey conducted by Mental Health America, money concerns and chaotic schedules are two of the top sources of holiday stress. Women reported feeling slightly more stressed than men — and parents in general feel more stressed than most groups.
This year, take the pressure off. Here are eight tips to help you relax this holiday season.
1. Put Stress in its Place: It’s Not About the Holidays
People who get stressed out easily are most likely to feel intense stress during the holidays. It’s really all about you, and not about the holidays. But there’s good news. You can learn to put stress in its place, and take the pressure off throughout the year.
“Stress and distress are often related to worrying about the future or fretting about the past,” says David Levingston, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Brattleboro, Vt. To find peace and joy in any season, he advises focusing on the present moment.
2. Create the Holiday You Want
“When the holidays come around, there may be pressures pulling you in all directions off your center,” Levingston says. He suggests you make clear decisions about how you want to spend your time and resources. Do it early, before the decorations go up around town. Consider what is most important to you. What memories will you look back on when the season winds down?
A little advance planning can help identify areas where you could cut back. Maybe nobody in your family enjoys certain functions. If so, be ready to RSVP with a polite no thank you.
3. Involve Your Kids
“It’s a part of all holidays that people get thrown off schedule,” says Hinda Dubin, MD, a University of Maryland professor of psychiatry. Dubin advises parents to stick with kids’ regular meal and bedtime schedules as much as possible.
Eating and going to sleep at roughly the same time each day is good for children, Dubin says. Kids feel more secure when their days follow a predictable order. It improves their moods, and helps to create a peaceful household. Of course, a regular schedule isn’t always possible during the holidays. You can offset holiday chaos by involving your children in holiday planning. Having a say in the planning can help your kids feel more in control during busy times.
4. Beware of Shopping Pitfalls
Shopping — especially if you’re worried about money or getting elbowed in the stores — can drain the fun out of the holiday season. People who focus on gifts generally feel less holiday cheer than those who spend more time with close friends and family.
Also, despite your best efforts, your gifts may not express your love as well as you hope. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, up to 49 million people get gifts they don’t want each year. Some people donate their holiday duds to charity, return them, or try to sell them on eBay. A few even post photos of “bad gifts” online. So, think about what your loved one truly enjoys. Perhaps lunch out together would be appreciated more than a scarf.
5. Get Creative in Your Gift Giving
Many families have had to cut back on holiday gifts. If this includes you, have a family meeting and get creative. “Some families draw names and each person buys for one person. Some families do handmade gifts or coupons,” Dubin says. A coupon might be good for a massage or night off from doing the dishes, for instance. You don’t have to go into debt to make the holidays special.
6. Play Games
Games can keep things fun and light at family gatherings. “Games are a good way to connect with each other and engage your mind, body, and imagination,” says Levingston. The game is up to you. You can play games indoors or out, and they can be anything from a walk, treasure hunt, cards, or charades. “The key thing is, you are in the moment.”
7. Postpone Family Feuds
There is a reason many people equate holidays with family strife. “When you have a group of people in a small area and everyone expecting to have a great time, it is almost a set up for arguments,” Dubin tells WebMD. With so much emotion and expectation, the holidays are not the best time to work things out. If old family baggage surfaces, plan to talk after the festivities wind down. “It’s better to address emotional issues in a more relaxed, private setting,” Dubin says.
8. Have Compassion for Yourself and Others
Even if you shop less and focus on family time, stressed-out friends, in-laws, and co-workers may still come calling. How can you be a good friend and keep your calm?
Try not to take things personally. Levingston says that’s one of the most important skills you can learn to reduce stress. During the holidays in particular, he says, most people are trying to get their needs met. Maybe it’s their need for love or simply for validation. “Even if someone is being a jerk or insensitive, it is their way of trying to get their needs met,” Levingston says.
So try not to think about how people “should be.” Accept them as they are, and release the tension from your body. “I think when we can see where people are coming from, there can be less frustration and more compassion,” Levingston says.
8 Days until the big Thanksgiving Feast . . . are you ready?
Yes, Thanksgiving is right around the corner-but don’t panic! Your Resident Gourmet Newsletter will help you have the Best Thanksgiving Ever. A stress-free day filled with family, friends, and great food. How, you ask? With tips on planning for the big day as well as step-by-step guide on cooking the perfect turkey.
So exhale and let’s get down to business!
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5 Tips for a Stress-free
1. Plan Your Thanksgiving Menu Early: Are you serving turkey, chicken, or goose? Will there be wine or your special holiday punch? Now is the time to plan your Thanksgiving menu; from soup to nuts. Once you’ve planned your menu you can pull out your recipes and check your cabinets to see what you have in stock and what you’ll need to buy. Write out your shopping list, listing everything you need, and you won’t have to worry about those last minute trips to the store spoiling Thanksgiving Day.
2. Shop Now: Now that you have your grocery list in hand it’s time to head to the grocery store. Buy your non-perishables now and save yourself time later, not to mention you will be able to take advantage of the pre-holiday sales, avoid the long lines and the lack of parking spots. When I shop I keep like items together in my shopping cart so that they are together during checkout and get bagged together as well. Once you get your groceries home, leave them bagged and simply set them aside until you’re ready for them. All you have left to buy are your perishable items and you can purchase them as much as a week out.
3. Cook Now, Relax Later: Decide on the dishes that can be cooked ahead of time and either stored in the refrigerator or frozen until right before Thanksgiving. For example, can you make the cornbread for your cornbread stuffing now and freeze it until you’re ready for it? What about the cranberry relish, collard greens, and sweet potato pies? Cook and store as many of the items from your menu as possible and defrost them the day before Thanksgiving. This tip will definitely save you time and make cooking your holiday meal more relaxed.
4. Get Organized: Now that you have your menu planned, your recipes pulled, have shopped for your non-perishables items, and even precooked some of your dishes; it’s time to decide on your table decor. Go ahead and pull your favorite holiday tablecloth, place mats, and napkins. Make sure that they don’t have any holes or stains and have them laundered and ironed. If you’re using your ‘special occasion’ dishes, flatware, and stemware go ahead and get them out of storage, counted, and wiped down. Doing this now will guarantee you the table of your dreams without the usual holiday stress.
5. Ask For Help: Thanksgiving Day is finally here and it’s time to enlist some help with the finishing touches. Ask someone to set the table. Since the linen is ironed and the dishes counted, this should be an easy task. Someone else can pour the drinks or plate the salads. If you’ve invited guests to share your meal, don’t be shy about asking them to bring a dish to share as well. It’s always nice to have an extra appetizer or dessert or a nice bottle of wine.
How to Cook the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey!
The temperature in your oven has to be accurate.
Your turkey has been safely and totally thawed and cleaned.
The only safe way to thaw a frozen turkey is to place it in the refrigerator. Other methods such as running cold water over it or placing it in a microwave oven are not safe because of the chance of bacterial growth and food borne illness. So place your frozen bird in the refrigerator at least 2 days before the big day.
Don’t laugh! People do this all the time, so check both the top AND the bottom of your turkey for them. There is nothing quite as anti-climactic is carving the Thanksgiving turkey and having the bag of giblets pop out.
Stuff your turkey with dressing once the turkey is totally done and has an internal cooking temperature of 165*F.
NEVER stuff a raw turkey-the dressing will absorb the turkey’s uncooked blood and juices and can lead to food borne illness.
You’ve Done It!
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!
5 Ways to Support Georgia Grown
From Rabun Gap to Bainbridge, Waycross to Blue Ridge, agriculture is part of every life in Georgia. While all Georgians do not live on farms, agriculture affects each and every citizen of the state. It is a $70 billion industry providing Georgians with more than 380,000 jobs. Supporting our local agriculture industry can be a great boost to our economy as well as fun and healthy. Below are the Top 5 ways your business can promote Georgia’s agriculture industry.
1. Eat Georgia Grown Ask your local grocer for their selection of Georgia Grown products.
2.Buy Georgia Grown There are several great CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) that will deliver directly to your office building. Setting up a Georgia Grown CSA delivery to your building will provide your employees an easy way to purchase locally grown products and/or provide your break room with plenty of healthy snacks. Locally grown products are also available at a Georgia Farm Bureau Certified Farm Market near you.
3.Visit Georgia Grown Have your next meeting or retreat on a Georgia farm. Agritourism and You-Pick operations have been sprouting up all over Georgia. Several agritourism locations have packages made for office groups and meeting facilities.
4. Wear Georgia Grown In 2011, Georgia harvested 1.495 million acres of cotton, making Georgia the second largest cotton producing state in the nation. Furthermore, Georgia is home to several apparel companies that make all kinds Georgia Grown clothing.
5. Sponsor Georgia Grown The Georgia Grown program is always looking for partners to help support Georgia’s farmers. We will be happy to work with you to find the best partnership for your business.
Georgia Grown Savannah Summerfest
June 29th at the Savannah State Farmers Market
Join us at the Savannah State Farmers Market for fresh Georgia Grown produce and free family fun at the Savannah Summerfest! This year’s Summerfest will be held on June 29, 2013 from 10:00am-3:00pm. Stop by the market to purchase your summer produce fresh from the farmer and taste fruits and vegetables from vendors across Georgia. The Summerfest will include children’s rides, face painting, an antique car and tractor show, and samples of Georgia’s finest cheese, jellies, honey and more!